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The second edition of the ceremonies marking the International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Jarosław

On January 26th, Jarosław held the International Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremonies. This second edition was initiated by Prof. Wacław Wierzbieniec, the President of Bronisław Markiewicz State Higher School of Technology and Economics in Jarosław (PWSTE), and Priest Marek Pieńkowski, Director of Służebnica Boża Anna Jenke Centre of Culture and Christian Education, with the support of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Warsaw.


The ceremonies were attended by Eli Zolkos, the assistant Rabbi of the Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich. The school was represented by vice President for Students Affairs Dr. Krzysztof Rejman and the Director of the Humanities Institute, Dr. Maria Żak.

The ceremony was opened at 5 pm by a panel discussion on Polish-Jewish relations as seen from the perspective of Holocaust survivors and rescuers, which was attended by the following invitees: Luci Retman (Haifa – Israel), s. Dawid Ryll (Miejsce Piastowe – Polska), Judith Elkin (Miami – USA), Roman Kessler (Tel Aviv – Israel) and Krystyna Stawarska-Grzęda (Jarosław – Polska).

During the ceremonies, Lucia Retman, one of the Holocaust survivors, talked about her own dramatic and moving life stories. Lucia Retman from Haifa, invited by the Prof. Wacław Wierzbieniec, visited Jarosław for the second time to testify to historical facts. She recollected the time of the Nazi occupation, during which she was in hiding in the house of Zofia Pomorska from Lubaczów, who was posthumously awarded the Righteous medal for her help. Pomorska arranged for the girl to have identity documents of a Polish girl, which made it possible to leave for Germany to work. Facing an immense risk, the identity of Lucia Retman was changed for the Polish Catholic Janina Kogut. Together with Poles and Ukrainians, she went by overcrowded train carriages to work in Berlin, which saved her life during WWII. Dawida Ryll took part in the panel discussion to talk about historical issues related to rescuing Jewish families (with a reference to a witness account, her own mother Maria Ryll). She brought back to remembrance a painful image from her childhood, when a Jewish boy, who was in hiding in Dawida’s house with his family, was executed by Germans.

The Shoah, which was a tragedy of the entire humanity, was discussed by the famous lawyer Jarosław-born Roman Kessler, who lives in Tel Aviv and in Warsaw now. Krystyna Stawarska-Grzęda commemorated her parents who died tragically. In her account she reminisced about a story from seventy years ago, when her parents were slaughtered in retaliation for helping Jews. Judith Elkin, who was born in Przeworsk before the war, came to Jarosław from Miami, USA, specially to take part in the ceremony and speak about her own family story.

Afterwards, at 6:30 pm, a religious service for Poles from Podkarpacie who were murdered for helping Jews and for deceased Jews, was held in the church in Jarosław. Additionally, the Mayor and Dawida Ryll read out a list of identified names of Jews. The names of Poles were read by Lucia Retman from Haifa, Eli Zolkos, Judith Elkin and Roman Kessler. At the end, all attendees went to the execution wall, where Jews who died at the wall of the Jarosław abbey were commemorated by reflective prayer and kindling of lights, which symbolized human lives. Jacek Hołub, the author of the guide about the Benedictine’s abbey in Jarosław told a dramatic account by Tadeusz Chudzik, a witness of Nazi crimes.

The first edition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Jarosław was organized by PWSTE President Prof. Wacław Wierzebieniec on January 27th last year.